At its heart, clutter is a lack of peace. Clutter keeps talking to us, weighing us down, and keeping us from living the life we were designed to live. Decluttering our homes is thus a step toward freedom.
But where should we begin? Sometimes the first step to decluttering is actually taking a step. So I came up with this list of things you can get rid of right now. Today.
1. Other people’s stuff
You are not someone else’s storage unit. Your grown children need to come get their stuff. If they live across the country, ask them to tell you what items they want, and you can send them to them.
2. Extra food
If your pantry is so stuffed that you don’t know what you have anymore, it is costing you money because you are most likely rebuying ingredients you don’t need. Clear it out and donate the nonperishables that aren’t past their “best by” date.
3. “Just in case” items
You know that pair of high-waisted mom jeans you’re hanging on to “just in case”? (Just in case they come back into fashion or you need them for an eighties party or all your other clothes are dirty.) Pitch ’em.
4. Stained clothes
Yes, you are allowed to give it one more shot with the miracle stain remover your sister found on Pinterest. After that, it’s time to recycle or throw away.
5. Spare buttons that come in little plastic bags on clothes
Are you really going to sew the button onto the sweater that you probably donated three years ago?
I use the same three coffee mugs every day. And thus the “I heart New Mexico” mug that has been sitting at the back of my cabinet for three years collecting dust needs to find a new home.
7. Well-loved pet toys
Yes, you may get the urge to carefully scrub the grime off the pet toy with a toothbrush and to whip out a needle and thread to sew the hole your dog chewed in it. But most likely, it just needs to be tossed.
8. Well-loved towels
Once a dish or bath towel starts to get grungy, you’re not going to use it anyway, are you? So toss it. Save a few as rags and get rid of the rest.
9. Stuffed animals
Does your kid really need 2,234 stuffed animals to keep her company at night? Have her choose her 6 favorites and donate the rest.
10. Mismatched socks
No, the sock monster isn’t going to appear with the match to all the missing socks you’ve been storing for years. Toss them.
11. VHS tapes and cassette tapes
As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t have the device to watch or listen to something, then you probably shouldn’t own it.
12. Shoes that hurt your feet
I know they are cute. I know they would look great with your blue skirt. But if they hurt, you will never wear them. Donate them.
13. Old cell phones
Keep one working in case of emergencies? Yes. Six? No way.
Because, let me guess, you’ve been given a dozen as gifts. You can’t love them all.
15. Flat pillows
Life is too short.
* * *
Remember, stuff is a short-term fix to a long-term longing—to have enough.But when you start to reduce the clutter, you begin to make room for the best things in your life.
You can find more practical tips to help you declutter your home in Clutter Free.
Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the author of several books, including The Husband Project, The Cure for the “Perfect” Life, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.